Category Archives: Environmental

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New Legislation Will Update and Modernize the Toxic Substances Control Act

Recently passed legislation by the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate will amend and update the Toxic Substances Control Act (15 U.S.C. §2601 et seq. 1976). Originally passed in 1976, the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) gave the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) authority to regulate and establish restrictions on certain chemical and chemical compounds, including the establishment of reporting, record keeping, and testing requirements.  While certain substances, including food, drugs, cosmetics, and pesticides are excluded from the TSCA, chemicals and compounds…

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Industrial pipe with gas and oil

Poor Natural Gas Pipeline Recordkeeping After Explosion Results in $14.4M Fine

A California appeals court recently upheld a $14.4 million fine issued against Pacific Gas and Electric Co. (“PG&E”) by the California Public Utilities Commission (“CPUC”) for improper reporting of the pressure in a natural gas pipeline that had previously exploded in 2010, killing eight and destroying 38 homes. After the pipeline explosion in San Bruno, the CPUC fined PG&E $1.6 billion. CPUC’s investigation found that PG&E’s recordkeeping on its transmission pipeline records was substantially insufficient. They ordered PG&E to reduce pipeline operating pressure by 20…

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Proposed Bill to Ban Use of Plastic Microbeads

Cosmetic companies should take notice of a law passed in Illinois earlier this year to ban the manufacture of personal care products containing microbeads. Microbeads are made of polyethylene, which is the same plastic used in garbage cans, plastic bags, and bulletproof vests. These plastic particles are often used as an artificial replacement for natural exfoliates in beauty products such as soap and face cream. A study performed on Lake Michigan reportedly found 17,000 bits of these tiny plastic items per square kilometer. Environmentalists have…

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BP On the Hook for Bogus Settlement Claims Stemming From Gulf Oil Spill

In a recent decision, the Fifth Circuit determined that BP must continue to satisfy claims from the settlement fund established and agreed to following the Deepwater Horizon disaster a few years ago. In March 2012, BP entered into a multibillion dollar settlement to resolve tort claims comprising property damage, economic loss and medical claims. After entering into the agreement, BP found that potentially fraudulent claims were being submitted and paid out. As a result the company sought to amend the terms and require more upfront…

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FTC Requires Revision of Misleading “Green” Product Ads

Nowadays environmentally conscious purchasing is on the rise, as evidenced by the increased availability of organic food in your supermarket produce section, and the proliferation of hybrid and electric vehicles on our highways. In view of this, manufacturers attempting to get a competitive edge, seek to promote the “green” and eco-friendly characteristics of their products as compared with those of competitors’ products. However, a settlement entered this week by the Federal Trade Commission with one such company’s advertising campaigns regarding its plastic lumber products demonstrates…

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West Virginia Chemical Spill Prompts Questions About Toxicity Of 4-Methylcyclohexanemethanol (MCHM)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has launched a webpage to provide the general public, and especially those affected by the chemical spill in West Virginia, information about the toxicity of MCHM. MCHM is a chemical used to process coal. MCHM is a type of organic alcohol with an odor similar to licorice according to the CDC. The CDC webpage notes that there is limited availability of data about MCHM and few studies on the specialized chemical exist, especially in humans. The…

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Beginnings of Success Using Federal Racketeering Statute to Combat Fraudulent Lawsuits

As this blog reported earlier this month, national freight and railroad company, CSX Transportation, recently succeeded in using the Federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) to obtain triple damages from a Pennsylvania law firm that brought a slew of fraudulent asbestos lawsuits against it. Now, multinational energy corporation, Chevron, looks to follow on the heels of CSX’s success in an action against noted Manhattan plaintiffs’ attorney, Steven Donziger, for bringing an allegedly fraudulent environmental lawsuit against the company in Ecuador…

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OSHA’s HazCom Rule and Personal Injury Suits

Last year, the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) published a rule that modified its Hazard Communication (HazCom) requirements governing how chemical manufacturers, employers, and other organizations convey hazard information to employees. Previously, companies had some discretion over the appearance and wording of these labels. OSHA formulated these amendments to conform to the United Nation’s Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) and create a standardized approach regarding this issue because companies often operate in various countries with different laws. However, a…

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After-Market Car Parts Prohibition Workshop

New York may have inadvertently banned from advertising, sale or installation certain catalytic converters that are mechanically mandated for certain automobiles. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has established a “workgroup” to address the problem. Subpart 218-7.2 was adopted by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and became effective June 1, 2013. That Subpart provides at subsection (c)(1): “It is unlawful for any person to install, sell, offer for sale, or advertise any new after-market catalytic converter in New York State

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Got Refrigeration?

On September 4, 2013, EPA announced a settlement with Safeway, the nation’s second largest grocery store chain, concerning Clean Air Act violations at 659 of its 1,412 stores. Specifically, it seems that ozone-depleting chemicals were leaking from refrigeration units. Safeway agreed to pay a $600,000 fine and to spend over $4 Million in new technology to reduce its emission of ozone depleting gases. Not only is this a “shot across the bow” to alert all grocery store chains to inspect and correct their air…

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